Catcher in the rye analysis
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Catcher in the Rye Analysis. Chapters 1-2. 1. Even though Holden “doesn’t feel like going into it” on page 1, what do you learn about him and his family from his commentary?. 2. “I was trying to feel some kind of good-by” (4). What does this tell you about Holden?.

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Catcher in the Rye Analysis

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Catcher in the Rye Analysis


Chapters 1-2

1. Even though Holden “doesn’t feel like going into it” on page 1, what do you learn about him and his family from his commentary?


2. “I was trying to feel some kind of good-by” (4).

What does this tell you about Holden?


3. On page 9…partly true/ all true. What does this tell you about Holden’s outlook on life?


4. Look on page 10. How is the Atlantic Monthly missing the bed symbolic?


Chapters 6-8

1. Look at page 40. Holden says he has a problem remembering this incident. Do you believe him? Why?

  • Why might he have trouble remembering (or say that he does)?


2. Look at page 41. Why does Holden tear up the composition?


3. Look at chapter 7. Why does the author keep mentioning the light? Could it be symbolic?


4. “I was sort of crying” (52). Holden says he doesn’t know why he’s crying. Do you?


5. “Mothers are all slightly insane” (55). What does Holden mean?


Chapters 12-15 (RRN #111)

  • “If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though” (87).

    What does Holden mean? What does this tell us about his character?


2. “I can’t stand looking at the other guy’s face is my trouble” (90). Why might Holden be able to punch someone if he couldn’t see the other guy’s face? Why is it different if he can see his face? What does this tell us about Holden?


3. Holden comes from a family with money. He admits to being well-off. Why does he make such a big deal about the five dollars in chapter 14?


Chapters 22-24 Analysis

1. “Even if you did go around saving guys’ lives and all, how would you know if you did it because you really wanted to save guys’ lives….” (172).

  • How does this observation connect to Mr. Ossenburger? How does it connect to the nuns?


2. What does Holden mean when he says he wants to be the Catcher in the Rye?


3. Why does Holden cry on page 179?


4. Why do you think Mr. Antolini touches Holden on the head on page 192?


RRN #117 Analysis: Chapters 25-26

  • http://www.sarahchanaradcliffe.com/art_nervous.htm

    1. What signs and symptoms did Holden present that show he had a nervous breakdown?


2. Who does Holden assume wrote the obscene language on the wall on page 201? Realistically, who probably wrote it?


3. What does Holden worry will happen if a child from Phoebe’s school were to see the word on the wall? Realistically, what will happen?


4. The obscene term that Holden finds on the wall has certainly contributed to the banning of this novel over time. However, was Salinger justified with his choice? Would this episode in the novel carry the same meaning if Holden had found a “lighter” swear word on the wall?


5. Why is it important that Phoebe brings her suitcase to meet up with Holden at the museum? What does this force him to do?


  • 6. Salinger creates Holden as a wealthy character. If Holden had been from a middle or lower class family, how would that change some of the themes in the book? What might Holden have been focused on then?


7. Read this poem by John Donne:

No man is an island,

Entire of itself.

Each is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manner of thine own

Or of thine friend’s were.

Each man’s death diminishes me,

For I am involved in mankind.

Therefore, send not to know

For whom the bell tolls,

It tolls for thee.

How does this poem connect to Holden’s character and the themes found in The Catcher in the Rye?


Sample Test Question

Holden tells us that his brother D.B. is “out in Hollywood…being a prostitute. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies” (2).

Holden calls his brother a prostitute because

  • D.B. owes Holden money, and Holden is upset with D.B.

  • D.B. tends to have relationships with quite a few different women.

  • Holden feels like D.B. is selling out his writing talent to Hollywood, which is unworthy of such talent.

  • Holden thinks D.B. has run out of money and must sell his body in Hollywood to pay the rent.


On page 121, Holden points out that “the best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move. You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish…The only thing that would be different would be you.”

Holden’s love for the museum and its exhibits reflects his

  • resistance to the changes of growing older.

  • curiosity about different cultures.

  • tendency to care more for genuine people than “phonies.”

  • well-educated background.


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